Why it’s important to keep American manufacturing IN America
One of the largest trends recently being brought to light in the American manufacturing industry is the process of reshoring. The reshoring initiative aims to return manufacturing operations back to the United States, after previously having moved them to another country.
The desire to keep manufacturing jobs here at home has been reticently shared throughout the industry for some time, but most industry leaders simply found the cost benefits of outsourcing jobs to other countries too rewarding to pass on. As the industry has adapted in many ways, however, the pros-and-cons of outsourcing are now being measured much differently.
Millions of American manufacturing jobs were lost in the last decade due to outsourcing. Low wages and tax advantages overseas made the transition seem obvious to big-time suppliers who would simply be able to produce much more for much less. What wasn’t figured was the cost of quality.
Quality is literally everything to manufacturers both local and global. Being unable to properly monitor and guarantee that each and every finished product is of pristine quality is a cost that can compound quickly. Simply put, any time an error must be corrected it creates a cost that would not have been in play otherwise. And, when it comes to weighing cost versus quality, the answer is becoming more and more obvious to manufacturers.
Growing energy and transportation prices have also lead many industry leaders to rethink the cost benefits of outsourcing. Keeping production at home significantly reduces the cost of delivery and distribution, and also better meets the needs of modern consumers. As technology has advanced, so have consumer expectations. Whether individual shopper or major bulk buyers, people expect short delivery windows and achieving this is much easier for manufacturers when less distance is involved.
Also, STEM’s place in modern manufacturing creates a wider skills gap and calls for a larger variety of abilities not yet utilized in the industry. Proper education and training of prospective manufacturing professionals is vital to the industry’s future, and proximity plays a major role in this learning. Separating manufacturing and development with long distances can stymie the transfer of training and knowledge among a company’s employees. Extreme distances also create problems for startup companies that rely on quick turnarounds when experimenting with new prototypes. In an industry that advances quickly, and moves quickly in general, learning must also happen efficiently.
A final benefit of reshoring efforts, while hard to quantify, might be the most important factor. Local craft and the connection that consumers feel with homemade products has become highly important. Local manufacturers play a large role in the growth and success of their local communities. Siemens, a global manufacturer of products in multiple industries, suggested earlier this year on social media platforms that every job in manufacturing creates roughly 2.2 jobs in other sectors. Manufacturing has a positive, multiplying effect on local communities and society as a whole. It’s important that these positive effects are felt right here at home.